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Several hundred fans gathered outside the CSKA arena in Moscow yesterday in search of a ticket for tonight's decider against Maccabi Tel Aviv. However, their hopes were in vain. On the black market, though, tickets were selling for as much as $1,000 a piece.

Inside, CSKA continued with preparations as usual, but according to the Russian press Moscow Coach Ettore Messina is feeling the pressure after his team was outplayed by Maccabi in Game 2.

"We have learned the lessons from our mistakes in the first two games of the series and we hope not to repeat them," said the Italian, causing some surprise given that his team humbled Maccabi in Game 1. "Yes, our mistakes in both games, because even in Game 1 we were far from perfect. We have to understand that this game will be very different from Game 1 and that Maccabi will be a different team, more relaxed and more determined. We can expect a classic playoff game between two very good teams."

American guard Trajan Langdon tried to sound calm, but there was a tinge of worry in his voice.

"It's been a week since the defeat in Tel Aviv and that's enough time to recover and to prepare for the big game. I hope we come out of the dressing room determined and show the kind of intensity that we did in Game 1. I hope we have the fans behind us for 40 minutes and that they will support us if things aren't going well."